An introduction to the investigation /
Why legal assisted suicide is unnecessary
Even terminally ill people want to die mainly for non-physical reasons. A study found that 98-99% change their minds when they receive treatment for depression.
Compassion and Animals
If we put down animals when they are suffering and dying, why don’t we treat human beings with the same level of compassion?
Choice and Autonomy
In a society where we place high value on freedom and individual choice, why don’t we allow people to choose the time and manner of their death?
Short Cut 01
A Change for All
Laws don’t apply to individuals – they apply to all of us. You can’t change the law to allow doctors to perform assisted suicide and euthanasia for just the tough cases; a law that makes it OK for people to choose when to die will affect everyone.
Over time, such a law change would influence the way we think about dying, illness, suicide, disability, and suffering, as it has in places like the Netherlands and Oregon. The law will change for all of us, and the law will change our culture.
Short Cut 02
Being a Burden
Dr Rod McLeod
We’d like to think that legalising euthanasia and assisted suicide would give us more choice and control over the end of our lives, but that’s not necessarily so. When we’re sick, when we’re old, and when we’re dying, we are vulnerable people. At this time we often rely pretty heavily on our families, friends and health professionals. In this situation, it is easy to feel like we’re a burden. This feeling can make us susceptible to indirect and/or direct pressure from our families and carers.
If assisted death becomes an option, how many would come to feel that the ‘decent thing to do’ would be to release their family from the responsibility to care for them?
Short Cut 03
The Compassionate Response
Dr Huhana Hickey
Laws are, by their very nature, blunt instruments that lay out the rough parameters within which we live and guidelines for how we relate to each other; the law is not a tool of compassion. Creating a law that allows doctors to offer their patients assisted suicide and euthanasia would not be an act of compassion but the establishment of a category of the killable. The terminally ill and those with irremediable medical conditions would fall into this category. So too would many disabled people.
We show compassion by caring as well as we can for one another no matter how difficult and costly it might be; we don’t show it by legalising assisted suicide.
Short Cut 04
In the rush to Christmas and the end of the year, don’t lose sight of what’s important. A bill that would allow medical professionals to end the lives of their patients waits in the parliamentary wings, and the Health Select Committee wants to know what you think.
Should our Parliament change the law? Is someone taking their own life a response to suffering that we want to encourage? What do you think would happen if some people were given the “right” to die with help from someone else? These are not rhetorical questions. Your answers to them, and taking the step to share those answers with MPs is important. All of us can play a significant part in this discussion that is shaping the future of our society.
Short Cut 05
Dr Rod McLeod
Palliative care doctors are the people who specialise in the care of the seriously ill and the dying. The vast majority of these specialists are opposed to the legalisation of assisted suicide and euthanasia.
Why does this matter? Palliative care doctors know that allowing doctors to kill their patients can fundamentally change the role of medical professionals, a change that can damage doctor/patient relationships.
These doctors who walk with patients and their families through some of the most complicated and painful parts of life regard assisted suicide and euthanasia at odds with their core purpose: to rekindle hope, to minimise fear, and to never abandon their patients.
Dr Huhana Hickey
As a society, we mourn our high rates of suicide, and we try to do all we can to bring those rates down: we fund and support suicide hotlines and counsellors; we limit our media from reporting the full details of suicides for fear that others will take their own lives in similar ways; and we reach out with care and compassion to those close to us who express a desire to end their suffering by ending their lives.
Legalising assisted suicide and euthanasia will undermine these efforts by sending the message that, in fact, suicide is an appropriate response to pain and suffering. We may intend that message to only reach those with a terminal illness or other serious medical condition, but the fact is, once the message is out there we can’t control who hears it and takes it to heart.